Valley Forge Animal Blessings Honor ‘Ecology Saint’
Animals large (at top) and small are welcomed for Sunday’s blessings
VALLEY FORGE PA – An annual “blessing of the animals” ceremony to observe both World Animal Day and the feast day of the “patron saint of ecology,” St. Francis of Assisi, will be conducted Sunday (Oct. 3, 2021) at 3 p.m. at Washington Memorial Chapel on Route 23 in Valley Forge National Historical Park. It’s free to attend and open to the public, particularly animal lovers and their pet companions.
Blessings will begin at 3:30 p.m. This event has been added to The Posts’ calendar.
Washington Memorial Chapel rector, the Rev. Tommy Thompson, will preside, and be joined by members of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, its National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team, and representatives from PAWS for People, which provides individualized pet therapy visitation services in four Mid-Atlantic states.
Thompson will offer a special blessing for animals large and small, and for those who have lost a pet he also will bless ashes, photographs, and other mementos. The surrounding chapel grounds will feature booths and tables staffed by non-profit groups, pet-related businesses, and organizations with information and treats for owners and their pets.
Representatives from animal advocacy organizations, including Mrs. Pennsylvania USA Ambassador Karin Hencken, who works with Main Line Animal Rescue, will also be on hand. They’ll supply information and help start the adoption process for prospective rescue parents.
“We are so excited to host this wonderful event, and show our love to our pets by blessing them and keeping them safe,” Pat Nogar, the rector’s warden at the chapel, said. “Having these amazing organizations and individuals donate their time to be a part of our celebration just makes it so much more special.”
The official feast day of St. Francis, who died in 1226, is Oct. 4. It recognizes the work of the Italian who founded the Franciscan Order and two other orders of Catholic religious clergy. Born to wealth he later lived under a vow of poverty, and enjoyed the beauty of nature and spending time outdoors.
He preached that because a divine creator had given life to both humans and animals, they were kindred souls. It remained a theme of his life, and was embodied in his written work, titled “Canticle for the Sun.” Pope John Paul II named him the Catholic Church’s patron saint of ecology in 1979.
Photos supplied by Washington Memorial Chapel